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11 June 2022

How Sport Shapes Lives: 3 Inspiring Stories

Athlete Stories

Sport drives us, challenges us, and unlocks a unique joy for life. 

Sport has the power to be so much more than a way to fill a few hours after work. It focusses the mind, elevates your routine and forms the foundation of enduring friendships. Sport shapes your mindset, drives positive lifestyle choices, and inspires us to push harder, aim higher, and reach further. 

One thing we love about the SunGod community is our shared commitment to sport, and to simply being in the great outdoors. And we know that for most of us, this looks different from one day to the next. From the F1 grandstand to scaling rock walls, kicking back on the beach, or charging bike trails - for our community, no two days are the same.

So, we asked 3 SunGod Ambassadors from 3 different sports - triathlon, climbing and sailing - what their sport means to them. We discovered that it shapes every aspect of their lives: it drives them, challenges them, and most importantly, unlocks a unique joy for life. 

“Being a triathlete is the best job in the world.”

“If I wasn't doing triathlon I’d be sitting at home, unfit, watching TV and playing computer games. Instead, I get the chance to push myself daily to become faster and stronger, and ultimately one day become an elite athlete. Being a triathlete is the best job in the world.

I normally do 2 or 3 sessions a day. A hard day might involve a 4 hour turbo trainer session, followed by lunch and an all-important nap. When I wake up I’ll do another workout, like a 20km row, followed by yoga or stretching on the TRX. This takes about 6 hours. During rest days I do a light workout such as a swim, a sports massage or S&C. It’s a tough routine, but I get so much fun out of it. Racing new routes, competing in different countries, and challenging other athletes; all while getting to train day in, day out, doing something I love.

There aren’t many people of colour, or people with autism and other disabilities, in triathlon. If you have role models who look like you, it’s much easier to be inspired to get out there and try a new sport. So, as I progress in my own triathlon journey, that’s my goal: to encourage other people like me to take up swimming, running and cycling, and improve diversity and inclusion in sport more broadly. I love triathlon and I want as many people as possible to share that with me!”

Sam is a triathlete and advocate for autism in sport. He is on track to become the first triathlete with autism from the BAME community to complete a full Ironman in Frankfurt at the end of this month. Follow his progress at @samholnesstri.

“When you get the feeling of 'flow' on the wall, it's simply magical.”

“Climbing is so much more than just a sport. Of course, the feeling you get after a long training session is incredible, but climbing also inspires you to travel, and to see the world off the beaten track. More than that even, it is a wonderful community of like-minded people. It really is more of a lifestyle choice than just a way to keep fit. When you get the feeling of 'flow' on the wall, it's simply magical. It feels like you're in perfect tune with your own body, floating effortlessly up a steep wall.

More often though, it's pretty hard work! People often don't realise that to be a good climber you need more than strong fingers. You need to have a well-trained mind, be resilient to failure and be capable of dealing with fear and anxiety. Also, climbing as a sport and an industry is still overwhelmingly white and male-dominated - we need to do everything we can to get behind initiatives to make it more inclusive, and help people from a wider range of backgrounds get involved. That's a challenge in itself.

But I love the challenge of climbing: setting myself a task and seeing if I’m capable of going through with it. It takes a huge amount of mental strength, and the mental side of training is something I’d love to improve. It has a massive impact outside of climbing as you develop resilience, tenacity, and the ability to think on your feet. At the moment I’m climbing around 4 days a week, but even on my rest days I’m getting out and about; when I’m not climbing, I often find myself surfing, sailing, or scrambling. Unless I've overdone it - then I’m usually melting on the sofa in front of Peaky Blinders…"

Lena is a climber, photographer, and advocate for environmental progress. As an experienced climber, Lena understands life on both sides of the lens, and her climbing and adventure photographer captures the struggles, fear, determination and joy that climbing brings. See more of Lena’s work at @lenadrapella.

“Any opportunity I get in sailing, I grab with both hands. It’s a mindset.”

“When you get out there, it’s just you and your boat, and that’s all that really matters. In today’s world, we’re constantly connected through technology and social media, so sailing feels like an increasingly rare and real way to be with nature, connected with the elements. It lets me switch off from the outside world, and I feel truly alive. I look for that connection with nature on my rest days too. Then, I spend time with the people I love while being out in the fresh air, whether that’s sea swims, walking, or just pottering in the garden.

I love how sailing is so different every day. There aren’t many sports where you can go out and have a different wind direction, sea state, and just general feel of the day, every day - that’s the joy of our sport. But in the same breath, that’s what makes it so challenging; when you're trying to perform at the top of your game, especially in Olympic sailing, you can train in the same boat at the same venue every day, but when you get to race day the conditions change and it totally throws your headspace.

Despite this, any opportunity I get in sailing, I grab with both hands and give the challenge a go. It’s a mindset. In professional sailing, we still have a long way to go in terms of creating opportunities for women to achieve gender equality. It's hard. We are years behind in terms of experience, but that's because there aren’t enough opportunities to get it. So we need to create pathways to get women involved and give opportunities to some of these amazing elite female sailors that we have, that just need a helping hand - a bit of direction in how to catch up on the missed experiences. We’re making progress, but there’s still a lot more to do in terms of supporting women progressing their careers in professional sailing.”

Nikki is a pillar of the sailing community. After 10 years on the British Sailing team, Nikki has shifted away from Olympic sailing to join the Great Britain SailGP Team. As both a coach for the British N17 squad and one of 3 female sailors in the Great Britain SailGP Team, she is a leading figure in women's sailing and plays a key role in developing the careers of young female sailors. Follow the progress of Nikki and her team at @sailgbgbr.

Sam, Lena and Nikki are the epitome of commitment to the pursuit of their sport. To them, triathlon, climbing and sailing are more than something they do to unwind; the sports form a core part of their identity. At SunGod, our goal is to create products that unlock and ignite this kind of passion, so that we can help more people discover a love for sport, and a lifestyle built around the great outdoors.

Built for Both. Shop SunGod Lifestyle Series™ here.